Before I was a lifestyle journalist I was what you’d call a “music critic”. This meant that for at least a decade, my career typically involved:
- getting new music in the post
- rating – or slating – that new music
- attending “album playbacks”, sometimes with the artist in attendance
- interviewing artists (new and old, promising and legendary), sometimes on the phone, occasionally in another country
- going to those musicians’ shows – sometimes in this country, sometimes in another city
It was a charmed life – a poorly paid one, mind you, but I had fun. Eventually, the love for the game died and I realised I preferred scrutinising starters at restaurants and hanging out in art galleries than waiting for the music industry to produce artists I could get excited about – like really excited about, not “you’ve flown me halfway across the world to listen to a wack album but I’m gonna pretend to like it because free flight and hotel innit” excited. Trust me, it’s happened.
Anywho, to prevent this becoming unnecessarily ranty, I officially like music again. Dare I say, I even love it. I started flirting with Apple Music, eventually put a ring on it (aka £9.99 a month) and it’s opened me up to a whole new world of music in the way my favourite mags did back in the day (Vibe, The Source, XXL, Black Beat, Blues & Soul, Trace, Touch, Tense, Undercover the lot).
It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been covering gigs for The Evening Standard since the beginning of the year which means going to a lot of shows – some fab, others a bit meh – and remembering why I fell for music in the first place.
So to consolidate my new-found appreciation of it all, I’ve launched a little something-something called Five Dope Tracks. It’s a regular round-up of the tunes I’ve either come across recently or back in the day and reckon you might like – five tracks at a time. It’s short, sharp and sweet.
The June 2017 Edit is kicking it all off, featuring Mr Jukes (London, stand up!), Ohmega Watts (a conscious rapper from Brooklyn I’ve been loving off for years), Beleaf (a ‘dad’ rapper from Baltimore who’s got a hilarious YouTube channel starring his wife and kids), Rob Araujo (a very cool jazz man from LA) and Pool Cosby (an indie-ish group from NY who’ve done this nice summery collabo with man like Raekwon – who’d have thunk it?)